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14 June 2018 Photo Supplied
Next Chapter Green Ribbon campaign addresses mental health
Members of Next Chapter and UFS Student counselling are working together to address mental health issues.

Next Chapter, a student support group at the UFS presented the Green Ribbon campaign, pledging their support to students and providing them with assistance in coping with life events that stimulate stress and contribute negatively to their mental health. The team aims to break the stigma surrounding mental health care, and continually assist students with mental health-related issues that they struggle with daily.

The Green Ribbon represents mental health awareness, which is a pressing matter for students and is the type of support students need in a stressful university environment. The campaign focuses on teaching students how to cope with life events that stimulate stress, and contribute negatively to their mental health.
 
A discussion by Dr Ancel George: practising clinical psychologist and lecturer from the UFS Department of Psychology, and Dr Mellissa Barnaschone: Director of UFS Student Counselling, took place, where talks were prominent about creating an inclusive environment for UFS students.

The panel shared a few tips on how students should work towards managing stress, and motivated them for the main mid-year examinations.
 
The follow-up Exam Cram Workshop, presented by Nadia Cloete and Lize Wolmarans, that combined time and stress management, took place on 2 June 2018, and saw students receiving advice on how to approach various issues during the examination period.
 
Mental health awareness does not end with the campaign and Next Chapter’s slogan “Your story continues” encourages students to regularly wear and commemorate the green ribbon in support of continual mental healthcare.
 
Should you have any enquiries or input for the ongoing campaign, contact the Next Chapter team on ufsnextchapter@gmail.com, or further email Tshepang Mahlatsi, founder of Next Chapter on tshepangmahlatsi767@gmail.com

News Archive

Service learning teaching strategy essential for the infusion of graduate attributes
2017-01-02

Description: Dr Pulane Pitso Tags: Dr Pulane Pitso 

Dr Pulane Pitso, Director: Institutional Performance
Monitoring within Performance Monitoring and Evaluation
Branch in the Department of the Premier, Free State
Provincial Government (FSPG).
Photo: Rulanzen Martin

“Public service delivery is not only about ‘government’s sector end products’, but is also fundamentally related to the ways in which the citizens can be best served at the point of client interface, as the primary beneficiaries.”

It is against this backdrop that Dr Pulane Pitso’s study explored the role of Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) in infusing the curriculum with graduate attributes for improved service delivery. The study is entitled: Community service learning as a transformative tool for infusing the university curriculum with graduate attributes for improved service delivery.
 
Citizens the central focus in public-service delivery
Although with the advent of democracy, the South African public service introduced the Batho Pele “people first” initiative which is one of the key transformation-oriented initiatives to ensure that citizens are the central focus in public service  delivery. An extant literature indicates that more work by the government still needs to be done in terms of the institutionalisation and implementation thereof.

Notwithstanding that public service is primarily responsible for addressing challenges related to poor service delivery, Dr Pitso moved from a premise that a multifaceted and collaborative approach, underpinned by a concerted effort by all relevant sectors, is more likely to contribute significantly towards improving service delivery. Specific focus was given to sectors primarily mandated to lay foundations through training and development such as HEIs, since the nature and quality of public service largely depends on the nature, quality and relevance of the system of education.

CSL a transformative teaching strategy
The basis for her thesis, emanated from the contention that public service delivery is a dynamic process which cultivates into a citizen-government relationship.

“It is this relationship that makes the implementation of the Batho Pele initiative crucial in ensuring that the social fabric and moral character of government is not compromised, thus the sustainability and facilitation of the emerged relationship,” Dr Pitso says.

The study focuses on the notion of community service learning (CSL) as an increasingly recognised transformative teaching strategy. It transcends lecture halls and utilises communities as educational spaces to provide practical exposure to real-life experiences to students on both learning and serving the communities.

Instilling graduate attributes in students
Dr Pitso’s thesis, which was predominately qualitative in nature, comprised two main stages. The first stage of the study focused on determining the current state of the public service in terms of the implementation of the Batho Pele principles. Whereas with the second stage, the focus was on determining the extent to which the graduate attributes are instilled in students by means of an exit-level CSL module at the UFS.

Dr Pitso’s thesis, which was awarded to her on 30 June 2016, is the product of five years of hard work, commitment and perseverance. She said it would not have been realised if it had not been for the leadership and mentorship of her promoter, Prof Mabel Erasmus, and co-promoter, Prof Victor Teise.

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